the m john harrison blog

Tag: lists

mjh books for sale soon

I’ll have some books for sale in about a month’s time. List to follow, but: some first editions; some interesting or rare old editions; some you could find for 1p at Amazon (but they wouldn’t be pristine, signed &/or inscribed). Some in good condition, some a bit less so. I’ll charge reasonably; I’d prefer to sell to actual readers. Leave me a message on Twitter. I’ll follow you briefly & DM you an email address. I’ll be taking bids for a couple of pristine 1st hardback editions of Climbers.



A cryptic note that just says “Nightjar”. Another one that just says “stairs”. Today must have been more confusing than it seemed. I had some pretty good news one way & another. But I never got over the poverty business. It seeped into my head & stayed there. “Nightjar.” “Stairs.” What was I going to do that involved the stairs? What did I have to remember about them? I had a look at them a moment ago. From one end they went up. From the other they went down. That seemed fine. Nothing to see there. Nightjar… Nightjar… Time to watch another bad film. November’s your month for bad films. The Poverty Business would make a good title.

little shop of anxieties

Unlicensed operation on a narrow street. Inside, worn black & white linoleum floor tiles go back to a wooden counter. Furniture–mainly chromium diner stools–stacked in a corner. Some cabinets, you can’t make out what’s in those. Push your face up against the window on a dark night & a rain of silent fleamarket objects drifts down slowly through this space like the index of some unreliable past: ashtrays of all types & sizes; geranium in a terracotta pot; thousands of 45rpm records; stones off a beach; money & playing cards; the dustjackets of library novels 1956; black French knickers waist 24; cheap tickets all colours; suits, hats & shoes; bruised cricket ball, seams worn; a porcelain globe five inches diameter bearing a complex design of leaves & tendrils in delft blue; small chest of drawers, veneered; bicycle tire, gentleman’s silver cigarette case, national insurance card: all gravityless & wreathed in Christmas lights like strands of weed underwater. One night you hear Frank Sinatra behind a door to another room. Go the next night, nothing. You turn up your collar in the rain. The card in the window says open but the door is always closed. Ask around, no one remembers seeing the owner. No dust on anything. Open book, indelible pencil on a bit of string. “Sign in here.”

sock puppet & shiny thing

ock puppet sock puppet sock puppet SHINY THING sock puppet sock puppet sock puppet SHINY THING sock puppet sock puppet I want it sock puppet I want it YOU WANT THE SHINY THING sock (fuck it) sock (fuck it) fuck puppet oh shut it IF YOU UNDERSTOOD WHAT YOU WERE SAYING sock puppet sock puppet IF YOU ONLY KNEW WHAT YOU WERE SAYING sock puppet oh fuckit I want the shiny, I want the thing (you’re blocked mate you fucked it) sock pupped it sock puppet sock puppet SHINY THING sock puppet sock puppet sock puppe

strange bedfellows, r/z

The final tour round my bookshelves, which are now less extensive than many a TBR pile–

Mary Renault
Paul Reps
Joanna Richardson
Matt Ridley
Rainer Maria Rilke
Robert Roberts
Henry Rollins
Philip Roth
Jean Rhys
Robert Sabbag
Siegfried Sassoon
Bruno Schulz
Alice Sebold
Will Self
Joe Simpson
Ali Smith
Martin Cruz Smith
Thorne Smith
Stanley Spencer
Stephen Spender
Robert Louis Stevenson
George Steiner
Robert Stone
Elizabeth Taylor
Giuliana Tedeschi
DM Thomas
Dylan Thomas
David Thompson
Adam Thorpe
Colin Thubron
Michel Tournier
Joanna Trollope
John Updike
Stephen Venables
EH Visiak
MM Waldrop
Alan Wall
Benjamin Walker
Alan Warner
Paul Watkins
Sydney Wignall
Charles Williams
Tim Winton
Tom Wolfe
Jack Womack
Daniel Woodrell
Antony Woodward
Virginia Woolf
TM Wright
Simon Yates
Thomas de Zengotita

This is what you get when you pursue an idle notion. Still, at least I didn’t think it was a good idea for a trilogy. Next time I trim the shelves I’ll be getting rid of everything, except maybe RLS.

tolkien’s toy

A call for “best fantasy” lists over at the inestimable Crooked Timber soon devolves into a Tolkien vs LeGuin wrangle. More intriguing than the usual Tolkien vs Peake; but not so interesting as, say, The Lord of the Rings vs The Journal of Albion Moonlight or The Street of Crocodiles. In fact, given that Tolkien has so many possible “opposites” –a comparison with any of which might tell us something about both the Prof & his adult toy–maybe we could have some suggestions ? I’d nominate Iris Murdoch’s The Flight from the Enchanter & Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson. In the one, we have a Dark Lord whose charisma is very clearly the sum of the needs of his victims–who exists solely because they need him to, & who may, anyway, actually be their rightful king; in the other, a Fellowship predicated on a disinformation operation, in which not only the Ring but the quest itself may be an invention, & in which the Orcs are convinced that they are the good guys. (That reminds me, why has no one ever compared The Lord of the Rings to Smiley’s People ? Both novels from the Cold War period, one from the beginning, one from the middle.)

meet tim & seth

Vacuum downstairs & bedroom
Wash kitchen floor
Air downstairs
Empty bedroom waste bin
Make bed
Move wash bag, clothes etc downstairs
Get chocolate croissants, Earl Grey etc
!!MEET TIM & SETH @ 5.45!!

Reading: Journey into Fear, Eric Ambler. Transcribing: notes made in the Radiography reception area, St Mary’s Roehampton. Wishing I’d been at: The Manchester Fiction Prize bash last Friday.

strange bedfellows episode 6: n to p

Further scandals, intellectual, linguistic & sexual, from my stripped-down shelves. Not long to go now, then we can all forget what turned out to be, like the best efforts of sf writers from time immemorial, more notion than content: the idea that should have stayed an idea.

Eric Newby
Anais Nin
Cees Nooteboom
Sean O’Brien
Heinz R Pagels
Elaine Pagels
Chuck Pahlaniuk
Kenneth Patchen
Jim Perrin
Jean Piaget
Sylvia Plath
Daniel Pennac
VS Pritchett
Annie Proulx
Kate Pullinger
Thomas Pynchon

I pity poor Elaine Pagels, author of sincere Gnostic histories, especially given Rant. But I would like to hear how Annie Proulx scolded VS Pritchett that night under Wyoming stars

shelf love, k to m

Stuart Kauffman
John Keats
Jack Kerouac
Philip Kerr
Wieslaw Kielar
TE Lawrence (352087 A/c Ross)
John Lehmann
Rosamund Lehmann
Primo Levi
Janna Levin
Claude Levi-Strauss
HP Lovecraft
Robert Macfarlane
Arthur Machen
Henning Mankell
Hilary Mantel
Katherine Mansfield
Christopher Marlowe
Alexander Masters
Nick McDonnell
Carson McCullers
George Melly
Diana Melly
China Mieville
Henry Miller
Nancy Mitford
Caroline Moorehead
Iris Murdoch


Air Tap!, Erik Mongrain.
Low C, Erick Turnbull.
Afraid to Dance, Don Ross.
Aerial Boundaries, Michael Hedges.
Scratch, Antoine Dufour.
Ebon Coast, Andy McKee.
Timeless, Erik Mongrain.
Drifting, Andy McKee.
Thin Air, Don Ross.
TCLD, Stefano Barone.